Aussie franchise Nanotek dodges tear gas to open Athens operation

Australian car cleaning franchise Nanotek has launched a site in a luxury mall in protest-ravaged Athens, with chief executive Jim Cornish insisting the offering will resonate with Greek consumers.


Since launching in Europe in 2007, Nanotek has expanded to include operations in France, Romania and Russia. It has also launched a flagship fixed site operation in the Middle East.


Now the company has launched its flagship fixed site for Greece, located in Athens’ premier luxury mall, the Golden Hall.


It has taken more than two years of planning and development site to make it a reality, but Cornish says he has no regrets about establishing a presence in the debt-riddled country.


Nanotek has appointed Michael Curry as the master franchisor for Greece. Curry is the former general manager for Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti and Ducati in Saudi Arabia.


According to Curry, the Athens site is the new template for Nanotek’s fixed site operations in Europe, and is “perfectly suited to the requirements and expectations of Golden Hall’s clientele”.


Encompassing more than 130 stores, the Golden Hall covers 41,000 square metres. Cornish is confident Nanotek will be a success in Athens, insisting the Golden Hall is the ideal venue.


“The good thing about car washing is it’s pretty much recession-proof,” Cornish says.


“When times are good, people don’t want to wash their car [because they can pay some else to do it]. When times are bad, they have better things to do than wash their car.”


“In the case of Athens, the economy is going through a tough time at the moment. We’ve got to pick that sector of the economy which is least affected.”


“For us, [the Golden Hall] was the best site. Regardless of the current economic times, it’s the best site from a branding point of view. It gets us into the right end of the market.”


According to Cornish, people who use professional car cleaning services do not necessarily earn a high income or drive an expensive car.


Rather, consumers’ willingness to pay for such a service highlights the strength of the car culture in certain markets, Europe included.


Cornish is confident Curry will be able to make the brand a success in Greece.


“When we’ve expanded internationally, we’ve always picked the right people as opposed to the place. We pick people who are a good match for our system,” he says.


“In the case of Greece, given the calibre of the master franchisor (Curry), he would be able to adapt and succeed anywhere.”


“As soon as a positive vibe returns, I think that within these situations, there’s always opportunity. We don’t shy away from bad economies.”


“As long as we’ve got the right people, we can always adapt and succeed in the market.”


Nanotek plans to establish a network of sites in Greece, most probably as “smaller boutique- sites, which we can regionalise”. The company aims to establish several additional sites by June.


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